WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A Palm Beach County family was planning for a relaxing weekend while visiting relatives, but say they ended up being targeted by deputies in upstate Florida who mistook them for wanted drug dealers. They say they were so terrorized by deputies in rural northern Florida they've filed a federal lawsuit for damages in excess of $10,000,000. The McCloud family from Delray Beach, Florida was visiting relatives in Jefferson County, Florida, near the town of Monticello, when they were pulled over by Sheriff's Deputies for allegedly speeding. Deputies asked to search their vehicle, which they readily consented to, and nothing was found. But deputies didn't stop there. A slew of other deputies soon showed up with a K-9 unit. The police dog picked up a scent near the rear of the car and the McClouds explained to the deputies that barbecue ribs were in the trunk. The police dog did not find any drugs, but it continued to bark at the family's 15-year-old daughter. "We were afraid for our lives and I tried to explain to the deputies that my daughter was menstruating," said Arnetta McCloud. "But they treated us like criminals and we will never forget what happened next." A female deputy was called from nearby Leon County and upon her arrival the female deputy searched Mrs. McCloud and allegedly groped Mrs. McCloud's genital area without even using a sterile glove. The McCloud's 15-year-old daughter was then ordered to remove her clothes and bend over in full view of passing cars and male deputies. The female deputy then performed an illegal and unnecessary cavity search on the minor. Though no drugs were ever found, the McClouds say it only got worse as one of the white deputies allegedly made racial slurs stating that his family used to own members of the McCloud family and his family also used to own their relatives' home in Jefferson County. After three hours on the roadside, the McClouds told deputies they were visiting the King family, who are relatives. Deputies then forced the McCloud family back to the King home. Upon arrival around 3:00 a.m., deputies barged through a half-open door and threw Mr. King to the ground. Deputies illegally ransacked the home, but once again, no citations were issued and no arrests were made. The McClouds and the Kings say they were threatened and told "that they better not tell anyone or make any trouble." A few months later, in early October 2001, Mr. McCloud and his attorney Guy Rubin filed an action to release public records regarding the illegal search. The Jefferson County Sheriff refused. "The day after we requested a court hearing on the records' release, deputies were sent to Mr. McCloud's home in Delray Beach," said Rubin. "This was total retribution and good ole boy intimidation." Mr. McCloud was cuffed in the middle of the night, and then whisked to North Florida without any notice. Mr. McCloud was falsely accused of possession of cocaine and intent to sell cocaine, and faced twenty years in prison. The deputies claimed the arrest was justified from information they gained from a confidential informant who was later identified as a relative of the lead Jefferson County Sheriff's Office detective. McCloud spent nearly a week in jail. Prosecutors and Sheriff's attorneys then attempted to coerce a release of all civil liability for civil rights violations in exchange for dropping the criminal charges. Mr. McCloud would not take the deal, but prosecutors dropped the charges anyway. Since Mr. McCloud was fearful of more retribution and being falsely arrested again, the family has waited until now to file this lawsuit, because the statute of limitation has run out on any possible criminal charges. The McCloud family and the King family have filed a federal lawsuit which claims deputies violated their civil rights. Attorney Guy Rubin says they will ask for damages in excess of $10,000,000. Case #04-80984 Unites States District Court, Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division.
SOURCE Rubin & Rubin, Attorneys and Counselors